Emotion regulation across the lifespan:Age differences in the intra- and interpersonal strategies for adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic in four countries

Dworakowski, Olenka and Huber, Zilla M. and Meier, Tabea and Boyd, Ryan L and Horn, Andrea B. (2021) Emotion regulation across the lifespan:Age differences in the intra- and interpersonal strategies for adjustment to the COVID-19 pandemic in four countries. Aging and Mental Health. ISSN 1360-7863

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Abstract

Objectives: Studies have shown age differences in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the processes explaining these age differences remain unclear. Intra- and interpersonal emotion regulation – such as ruminative brooding and co-brooding - play an important role in psycho-social adjustment and develop across the life-span. This study aims at investigating COVID-19-related adjustment disorder symptoms in relation to age and whether this relation can be explained by age-differences in rumination in a multi-national sample. As a second research goal, linguistic indicators of ruminative processing when writing about the pandemic will be examined with reference to age. Methods: N = 1401 participants (from USA, UK, Switzerland, and Germany, aged 18-88) filled out an online survey and completed a writing task. Measures include brooding, co-brooding, adjustment disorder symptoms, and language indicators of negative self-focus and communal focus while writing down thoughts and feelings regarding the pandemic. Findings: Older participants reported less adjustment disorder symptoms which was mediated by less (co-)brooding. Participants who reported more (co-)brooding wrote about COVID-19 more negatively. While in younger adults (age 18-40) more self-focus was associated with higher ruminative brooding, in older adults (age 59-88) it was associated with less maladaptive emotion regulation. Discussion: These findings contribute to a better understanding of regulatory mechanisms that help explain age differences in mental health. They warrant further research considering age-related differences, as our results suggest not only more adaptive emotion regulation as a resilience factor in older individuals, but also different qualities of self-focus while processing stressful events across the lifespan.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Aging and Mental Health
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Aging and Mental Health on 11/09/2021, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13607863.2021.1972933
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2900/2921
Subjects:
ID Code:
159594
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
15 Sep 2021 14:31
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2021 08:25